I get confused about the meaning of 了 in the sentence describing consecutive actions.

Can you guys explain the difference of meaning in two examples?





1 Answer 1


Please study Placement of 了: difference between 吃飯了 and 吃了飯

"了" in "我坐飞机去了上海。" is a verb particle that indicates the verb 去 is a completed action

"了" in "我坐飞机去上海了" is a final particle that 1. indicate the sentence has ended 2. indicates the situation has changed 3. soften the tone/ add emphasis

  • Can it still be grammatically correct if I add one 了 after 坐? 我坐了飞机去了上海。In my opinion, because 了 right after 去 is just enough to indicate that action is complete, so 2nd 了 is optional, am I wrong?
    – Jenny
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 7:04
  • 1
    '我坐飞机去了上海 ' means 'I have gone to Shanghai by airplane' , The action 去 is completed. In theory, the auxiliary verb 坐 may or may not be a completed action, that's why you think it can take another aspect marker 了 after it. But it is redundant. Since you have already gone to Shanghai, the relative verb phrase 坐飞机 must also be completed.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 9:22
  • 1
    If you use 了 for 坐 and use 了 for 去 in the same sentence, it would split the sentence in two, "我坐了飞机,去了上海" are two sentences, just like "我上了大學,認識了女朋友" are
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 9:33
  • Do Chinese people like to use so many 了 in a full sentence? E.g: 昨天下午我做了练习,预习了生词和复习了语法。So it can be said in this way? 昨天下午我做 练习 预习生词和复习了语法。
    – Jenny
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 10:02
  • 1
    昨天下午我做了练习, 预习了生词,和复习了语法 are three unrelated actions. To indicate each action is completed, you need to add 了 in each sentence. Therefore 昨天下午我做了练习,预习了生词和复习了语法。 is the correct form. If you want to turn it into a single sentence, you can treat the three actions as one event E.g. 昨天下午我先做练习, 再预习生词,然後复习了语法. Since you stated the first two actions happened before the last, then 然後复习了语法 also indicated 做练习 and 预习生词 are completed
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 10:42

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